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Well put.

David Dawes

I try to blog about every show I go to, but my blogs aren't criticism, they're a memory aid as much as anything.

I can't say I identify much with your situation, though. So many bands and shows go by and I only get to see a few, so I read plenty of reviews (mostly in local rags like the Weekly & Stranger) to figure out which bands in particular sound interesting. I don't buy many CDs (other than at shows when the band really impresses me) and I don't listen to the radio much, so reviews are one of the main ways I find out about interesting new acts. I've discovered that on-line reviews often link to downloadable songs, so I get a mild number of songs that way too.

That, and recommendations from my kids & friends tend to be what drives my selection process.

Mark Baumgarten

I hear ya, David.

Still, I think that you are closer to my line of thought than you think. Using live shows to build a sort of Consumer Guide approach for your readers is definitely a way of parsing the show. If it's coming from a person I trust, that commentary need only be a Tweet long with a link to streaming music (rather than a more literary piece trying to capture the essence of the event and only succeeding in putting me to sleep).

Thanks for the thoughts!


I remember I wrote a live review of a Nashville Pussy show for The Rocket a long long time ago. It was at EJ's, the former Portland rock mecca, which is now the Silver Lining Pawn Shop (you know the place, right next to the Sandy Rectal Clinic). There was a moment mid-set where the two women in Nashville Pussy started making out with each other. I mean, surely they'd done this hundreds of times, but I felt it was at least noteworthy. My editor, John Chandler, added a parenthetical to my mention of the moment. It said "I think I'm getting a stiffy, Beavis." I have never written a live review since.

Todd Hamm

Using a show as a jumping off point is always cool, but I also believe in the concert review. They can be boring and lame when done poorly, but can be a great snapshot of a story in progress, and are a valuable venue for criticism when done well.

Mark Baumgarten

Fair point, Todd.

But the quick turnaround that a show review requires in these modern times almost guarantees that it will not be done well. Rarely, in my experience, does a live review pass through a thorough editing process before being posted or printed. It is yet another one of the inherent flaws in the format.

A Facebook User

I was thinking something similar the other day as I watched Wilco perform at the Paramount and remembering what you and I have talked about reviews. I was really moved by the performance and was considering writing an article about it. Then the more I thought about it I realized I really just wanted to write about what I was feeling as opposed to a "review" itself; something probably better suited for a personal blog post than a newspaper article.

Reading this post, I considered when and why I read live reviews. Sometimes it is the example David gave, seeking new artists (or even more accurately, reading up on artists I've heard a buzz about). The rest of the time, though, is reading reviews of shows I attended myself. There is something compelling reading about a concert you witnessed yourself. Reading someone else's perspective on a shared experience can be eye opening - and frustrating. This, to me, is close to a dialogue between the writer and reader (unless there is a comments section...ha).

Outside of this situation, I agree with your sentiments. Why bother writing when there's Youtube and sites dedicated to sharing show set-lists nearly instantly after they happen.

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